Christian Retailing

Leading publishers report layoffs and restructuring Print Email
Written by Staff   
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 09:08 AM America/New_York

Recent changes at these companies made to ‘proactively deal with the economic downturn’

Leading publishers have made moves to streamline and re-organize their operations in the face of the struggling economy and market slump.

David C. Cook laid off 29 people in a late February move impacting its U.S. operations in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Elgin, Ill. The company’s Canadian Distribution unit and the Kingsway music subsidiary in the United Kingdom were not affected.

altCook’s CEO Cris Doornbos told Christian Retailing that although the company was ending its fiscal year June 1 with revenues ahead of last year, it was “positioning for the future and investments that were required for the future.”

Harvest House Publishers, which declined to disclose numbers of employees affected by layoffs in late January, also made internal changes.

“Like many other publishers in our industry, we have had to conduct a small reduction in our workforce to proactively deal with the economic downturn,” said Harvest House President Bob Hawkins Jr. “It was a decision that will enable Harvest House to continue to be very healthy for the years to come, even if the economy does not turn around right away.”

Strang Communications—publisher of Christian Retailing—has also re-branded and downsized. Starting last month, the company began conducting business under three names: Strang Book Group, which includes seven imprints; Strang Grupo Hispano and Strang Media Group—which includes the company’s magazine and Internet properties.

“We will continue to do business under the names of our many imprints and brands,” said Stephen Strang, founder and CEO. “But this more clearly identifies the three distinct groups under which we now do business.”

The company laid off 11 people in February. Previously, seven full-time equivalents were let go in January. The total reduction was just less than 12% of the staff, with none of the nine full-time equivalents who work on Christian Retailing, The Church Bookstore or Inspirational Gift Trends affected.

“We’ve been coping with the same market changes everyone else is facing, plus the technology changes as the Internet becomes a more important part of what we do,” Strang said. “But the layoffs were a response to the current economic slowdown to improve profitability to fund future growth.”

Doornbos said he remained “hopeful and optimistic” while also being realistic, and believed that a society coping with “instability” would turn to Christian products for guidance.

“I think it represents a real opportunity to those of us in Christian publishing,” he said.